La Veta-Alamosa, CO: Hard earned miles. - Climbing and Cruising in Central Colorado - CycleBlaze

June 26, 2014

La Veta-Alamosa, CO: Hard earned miles.

We are leaving in a minute for a well earned beer at the brew pub. It was a very long day with a headwind from the get go. I averaged only 5.6 mph from town to the START of the pass. I was so happy to start climbing the pass, it was easier. The road took a big turn around which blocked the wind.

Ironically, RAAM (Race Across America) went through here two weeks and had terrible headwinds the entire way. Which should have given us a lovely tailwind. Too bad we couldn't have traded days.

The wind was no surprise, it usually blows from the west in this area. We've been very lucky with wind this trip. This has been our only bad day. Tomorrow should be a tailwind for the finish. Yee ha!

OK - leaving now. More later.

Returned - my understanding was we were going for beer and snacks and then having dinner at the steak house at 6 PM (our usual time). Oooops. We were the only ones to order snacks. Everyone bolted their beers and are now at the steak house. I'm waiting for Jacinto to get back from the shoe store to join them, but I'm full of chili cheese potatoes and chicken salad . . . . .

Back to morning -

I slept well except for hearing two trains again. Jacinto and I were in the cottage. Our king size bed had two very tired pillows. Cathy didn't like her fluffy feather pillow. We should have consulted and traded.

Jacinto was happy to have the cottage with a bedroom/door so I could shut the door and get ready in the morning without rattling around and waking him up.

It was a fair amount of discussion to set breakfast at the B&B for 6:30 AM - the early birds had yogurt with fruit and oatmeal. There was also fresh banana muffins. Jacinto decided to wait for regular breakfast time of 7:30 - he got an omelet.

Cathy and I were on the road at 7:15 AM - it was windy already. The western route out of town to Hwy 160 was on Ryfus Road. Four miles to the highway. Four very slow, uphill, windy miles. I told Cathy to go on ahead. Obviously this was going to be one of those days. We knew it was uphill from the get go - doesn't quite seem fair that we had such a strong headwind to start also.

I was putting out way too much effort for a messy 5.5 MPH. It wasn't the gradient - it was the wind. It was going to be a long, long day. I can't tell you how many times I thought of the horrible slog into Gunnison last summer. Hopefully it wouldn't get that bad.

My map showed a 2,900 feet climb with the pass at mile 13. Imagine my surprise when there was a sign '8 miles to summit' at the spot where I expected to ride four more miles. What the heck? An extra four miles of climbing doesn't sound fun at all.

The climbing itself wasn't bad. Usually I was in the middle chain ring, on occasion dropping to the granny. The road took a big curve around and we got out of the wind for the worst of the climb. Thank you, thank you.The SAG stopped and checked on me several times. I was downing Spiz at an abnormal rate. Cherries and carrots rounded out my climb the pass food today. Salted almonds also today, just for a mix.

Finally I reached the top. Jeff talked me into crossing the road and riding in front of the sign. It was the very nice pavement - all four lanes empty as they were holding traffic. When I got across the road, there were two loaded cyclists resting in the shade. They had come up the pass the opposite side with a tailwind. Lucky duckies. That was all I had time to ask them. I wanted to get on down the road in case the wind really kicked in. I was correct, the top was at mile 13 - which meant we had 47 more miles to town. The downhill would help with some - but it would be a very long slog if we had to fight the wind for long.

I expected the road construction to start right at the top. It didn't. I enjoyed the downhill on the smoothest pavement ever. Traffic free. Life is nice! I didn't note at what point the construction started. I asked the flag lady what I should do. She said to cross over and ride on the opposite side. I did that for a few miles, then hit the actual work. I asked the boss in the truck what I should do now. He was very friendly, said they had cyclists every day, they'd just had the RAAM (Race Across America) riders come through, no problem. He said to weave around the trucks, they would watch for me. That seemed a little iffy - I didn't go too far before I came upon the oil truck. Not wanting to get oil on the bike I stopped. I waited for the one way traffic going against me to finish, then I crossed over and kept going downhill. It was some time before the traffic my way caught up with me.

I found it pretty easy to go through the construction. Jacinto said they help him up until it was traffic going his way and he stayed on the downhill side of the road. Cathy said she found so many cars passing her on her side was scary. I didn't ask anyone else about their experience.

Cal had left only a half hour before everyone else, but must have had after burners because he was way out front and no one ever saw him. Jeff didn't get his photo at the top of the pass. Gone, long gone.

It sounded like all of the other guys and Cathy rode together. Spoon gave Tom Swanson credit for getting him into town. Tom was a great cheerleader. Everyone that rode, rode in. Jacinto rode today and said his knee did very well.

It certainly wasn't a favorite day for anyone. We all seemed to agree the pass itself wasn't an issue, but the wind made it challenging.

We went for a celebratory beer at the Brew Pub. I thought we were having snacks also and ordered a couple of appetizers. My misunderstanding as we went straight from the beer to the steak house for dinner. Everyone really enjoyed the meal there. We went through several small towns this trip that had only one restaurant and you got what you got - which was typically Mexican food. I like Mexican food, but we didn't have a good meal anywhere. My opinion of course. I did really, really like the salmon salad yesterday.

No one lingered long at dinner. Too tired I think. Tomorrow is a 60 mile day for those of us who started in Villa Grove - an 82 mile day with a pass for the rest. But we are all happy with the weather forecast - TAILWIND!

The view on the way out of town.
Heart 0 Comment 0
I'm morbid - but not a single other rider saw or smelled the dead bear by the road. It was very ripe.
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An advantage to road construction is using their potties.
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Jeff was conveniently located at the top of the pass to take a photo. I was VERY happy to arrive. The climb itself was fine. The wind that day was something else.
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Here's the obvious advantage to road construction. Bicycle heaven. They even help up the traffic so we were traffic free for 20 minute intervals.
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Blanca Peak is located between Fort Garland and Blanca. We have traveled out of the aspen/pine tree/pinion tree country to sagebrush (that's all) country. Tomorrow we will see some irrigation in the San Luis Valley. Here, just sagebrush.
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The home stretch. SO, SO glad to be almost there. The headwind could have been worse. But it certainly could have been better.
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Today's ride: 60 miles (97 km)
Total: 349 miles (562 km)

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